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Student of Pain & Running (Life)

Advocate of GOYA (Get Off Your Arse)

Race Director - La Ultra - The High

Author, Columnist (HT, Mint)

I like to call myself a student of pain and running. I am also a militant advocate of GOYA (Get Off Your Arse) Move-Mint.

I have been running for last 35 years and making others to run too. In my spare time I am a doctor specializing in Sports-Exercise Medicine (Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham) and Osteopathy / Musculo-Skeletal Medicine (London College of Osteopathic Medicine) with special interest in Back and Knee Pain

Besides heading Back 2 Fitness, a Sports-Medicine & Muscuklo-Skeletal Medicine clinic for last 10+ years, I, along with my band of crazy friends, came up with La Ultra - The High, a 555 km (previously 333 & 222 km) run in Leh-Ladakh, India. We have been putting it together for last 10 years now. Some argue that it’s the world’s toughest, missing the point that it doesn’t matter. More importantly, it’s not about running.

In 2017 we brought to India it's first Running Festival, iRun Fest, which showcased Running Documentaries from around the world, Panel Discussions with thought leaders in running being on board and a platform for all involved in running in whatever capacity.

Till 2016 I had been associated with Adidas India as Running Advisor for about 3 years. I was also the founding Director of Sports & Exercise Department at Ashoka University where I was responsible for the sports infrastructure and making sports and physical activity an integral part of the curriculum. 

I have been a weekly columnist with Mint and Hindustan Times for over a decade now. I've done a series of running podcast, MoveMint for Mint newspaper and series of FacebookLive for Hindustan Times newspaper. I am currently working on a talk-show series with News Click.

I have also been an Associate Editor at British Journal of Sports Medicine and a columnist for The Hindu, Hindustan Times, MintForbes India and Founding Fuel.

I co-authored Move: Get Fit in 15 Weeks with Dr. Divya Parashar in September 2019. My book on Pain, published by Penguin Publications, The Pain Handbook was released in 2016. Details of both the books are below.

This book is not so much about running or exercising, as it is about empowering you to reclaim your best in every sense. The idea is to motivate you to move, to enable you to build yourselves up physically and psychologically, with simple exercises, tips and a daily plan for the next 101 days. As a good by-product from couch you would have got to 11 kms.

This book gets to the heart of the problem and explains how pain works, why we develop back, neck and knee problems and how to heal. This book is sure to resonate with any person who has ever suffered from pain.

This book gets to the heart of the problem and explains how pain works, why we develop back, neck and knee problems and how to heal. This book is sure to resonate with any person who has ever suffered from pain.

Corporate Wellness Program

You are the basic unit of the corporate world. And if you are not happy, nothing else matters. Courtesy social media, today we are not even in touch with ourselves. Suicide was the leading cause of death in India in 2016 for those aged 15–39 years, i.e. both potential and current corporate employees. A reality we can't anymore shy away from. The fabric of our society is falling apart.

Even though India is a young country with a median age of 27 years, today’s lifestyle has led to a healthcare and fitness catastrophe. This in turn has been affecting the productivity of all corporates. Today we don't die as young as we used to a few decades earlier, but that doesn't mean our quality of life is any better, as a matter of fact, it is far worse. Lifestyle diseases like Cardio-Vascular (heart conditions), Cancer, Chronic Respiratory Diseases and Diabetes play havoc today, first by bankrupting you both financially and emotionally, and then by contributing to premature deaths in to approximately quarter of Indians (30–70 years).

Our intent is to have you at your optimal best of both physical and psychological fitness. For that I have teamed up with Dr. Divya Parashar, a Clinical & Rehabilitation Psychologist with over 20 years of experience working with individuals to enhance their potential and function at their best, whatever be their illness or disability.

Photo credits: Woodlands / 4Play

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Yes, I do have some random degrees like MBBS, MSc Sports-Exercise Medicine from Nottingham University and MLCOM - Medical Osteopathy from London College of Osteopathic Medicine, besides a few other diplomas and certificates. 

More importantly, I started running very early on in life and have been doing so for over three decades now. It's given me an edge over my medical colleagues in understanding the human mind-body better. When you race middle to long distance, you have conversations with pain at an all together different level, on a daily basis. I soon learnt that pain wasn't an enemy or something to be scared of, all it needed was to be acknowledged and it would move on. 

In bigger schemes of things, numbers don't matter, but probably they are the only things that do, so here are some for you. I have run half (21 km) marathon in 1hr 18min, full in 2hr 38min and 100km in 11hrs 25min. I would have done marathon or more distances now more than 250+ times. To begin with, these numbers are helpful, but soon you evolve and they don't matter much. Same applies to living. You soon learn to listen to your mind-body, unlike no other expert out there. 

The biggest learning for me has been that we humans, first as sperms, ran to be born. But soon enough we stopped moving. We were forced as kids to sit on the most important muscles, namely gluteus maximus, also called butt or arse. And we've become slobs. Today, physical inactivity is the biggest killer.

Coming back to my medical colleagues, most of them treat pain like an enemy, whereas I am of the firm opinion that pain is only a messenger. Dealing with pain is not a destination but a journey. I am always learning, hence a student of Running & Pain, for life. 

I have been writing for a while now, with the intent of spreading knowledge, so wanted to compile all my work in one place. I also have a lot to say about topics that I am very passionate about, like running, moving, getting off your arse (GOYA), pain, leadership and life. I wanted to blog about all these topics in a more sane place.

In the past, I was elect-Chairperson for World Congress of Science & Medicine in Cricket, that was to be held just before the 2011 Cricket World Cup in the sub-continent, but decided to quit. I previously headed London centre of Kieser Training, a Swiss-German chain of rehabilitation centres which specialize in Medical Strength Training. I moved to India in 2006 to set-up Sports & Exercise Medicine department at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore. In 2009, along with a running buddy, I founded Runners High in Bangalore, a running institute with the belief and intention that everyone can do more.

In 2013, I got involved in a Couch to 6 km running program for ladies. I soon experienced first-hand why ladies are the nucleus of the society. There were 18 ladies from all walks of life, age ranging from 13 to 60 years. In less than a couple of months, more than 100 people were walking, ranging from their children, not-so-significant halves, parents, in-laws, neighbours, partners, someone who had a crush on them to complete strangers. 

I am on a very simple mission, to get people to keep miling and smiling, as long as they are on this third rock from a star called sun. 

Photo credits: Mala Mary Martina's book 'I Love Mondays' in which I was featured.